Dunedin Hospital gets new MRI machine

For the first time, Dunedin Hospital will soon be operating two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, a development expected to significantly reduce wait times for local patients.

A 39-tonne crane deposited the 4-tonne, 2.3m x 2.2m machine into the radiology department through a specially-cut hatch in the Dunedin Hospital roof.

“It was an intensive undertaking as the crane needed to navigate a small space between buildings and avoid our fourth-storey covered foot bridge,” says Stephen Jenkins, Radiology Service Manager. “Ambulances were able to access ED throughout this period, however there were some public access restrictions while the crane was in operation to ensure public safety.”

Once inside, the MRI was moved on a guerney to its final position, though a wall had to be temporarily removed to get it there.

When Dunedin Hospital acquired a new computerised tomography (CT) scanner in 2021, it resulted in a dramatic reduction in waiting times – and a similar result is expected with the new MRI.

“By using both machines simultaneously we can reduce the current waiting list, and should meet the Ministry of Health target that 90% of outpatients receive their MRI scan within six weeks,” he says.

“It may be that one machine is primarily operated as an acute scanner, and the other primarily for elective patients.”

Another benefit is that in the event one machine fails, the Hospital will still be in a position to conduct MRI scans while the affected machine is repaired.

Having two scanners at Dunedin Hospital also provides the ability to increase training of MRI technicians, who must attain a postgraduate qualification requiring two to three years of on-the-job training. This is valuable preparation ahead of the opening of the New  Dunedin Hospital, which will have three MRI machines, requiring additional staff to operate them.

Mr Jenkins is grateful for the support and understanding of the public and Dunedin Hospital colleagues during the disruption caused when installing the new MRI.

“There were no complaints from anyone – they all understood the importance of this technology for Dunedin Hospital,” he says.


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